Listening to gentile music

Gentile[1] music and lullabies:[2]

The words and tune: It is forbidden to listen to music that is sung for the sake of idolatry.[3] It is certainly forbidden to sing or listen to church melodies, or songs from Psalms which were orchestrated by Christians for the sake of their deity.[4] One is likewise to greatly beware from singing or listening to music that has inappropriate messages or words, such as immorality, heresy, idolatry, sexual stimulation, and inappropriate words of speech.[5] Singing or listening to such music creates a bad nature within the person, and ignites his inclination towards sin.[6] The Talmud states that Acher was drawn to heresy due to his singing the songs of the Greeks.[7] [Music that does not contain any inappropriate words or forbidden messages or lyrics, may be sung or listened to [if it does not contain a prohibition of Kol Isha].[8] Nonetheless, G-d fearing Jews are particular not to sing or listen to even permitted songs of gentiles as the soul of a singer is attached to his words, and by singing his song one attaches his soul to the soul of the composer, which could lead to negative influence on one’s character.[9]]

The tune without the words, or with other words: It is forbidden to sing tunes that were composed for the sake of idolatry, even if one replaces the words with words of Holiness.[10] Likewise, if the original tune contains inappropriate words or messages, and one is reminded of it when sung, then it is forbidden to sing even the tune alone.[11] Regarding songs of gentiles that were not composed for idolatry purposes, but contained inappropriate lyrics, which have since been lost to memory, then the following dispute applies:[12] Some Poskim[13] rule it is permitted to sing such tunes, especially if one transforms them to words of holiness. Other Poskim[14] rule it is completely forbidden to sing the tune of a gentile, even if the words are omitted. Practically, the custom of Jewry, as well as Gedolei Yisrael, is to use these tunes for holy purposes, and even on the holiest of occasions, such as Yom Kippur.[15] [The Chabad tradition is to sing Napoleans March on various occasions, especially after Neila of Yom Kippur, despite the fact that Napoleon was the epitome of evil. The same applies for the French anthem which Chassidim began singing in 5734. The Rebbe stated that this tune was elevated to Holiness through the Chassidim singing it during Farbrengens.[16] Nonetheless, on one occasion the Rebbe replied that the tune of a non-Jewish song should only be integrated with Jewish words under the ruling of a Rav Moreh Horah who is also an Asken who can rule on whether it is appropriate to Kosher such tunes, and in the case of doubt one must be stringent.[17]]

Infants and lullabies: The above applies even towards an infant, that one is to greatly beware that even an infant does not listen to forbidden gentile music as it will have a negative effect on his character.[18] The child’s soul understands the words and internalizes them, hence having an effect on him when he is older.[19] [This prohibition only applies towards songs that contain immoral or improper lyrics, and does not negate the singing of gentile melodies used as lullabies. Nevertheless, as the Rebbe concludes, one is not to sing any gentile lullabies to infants and is rather to sing lullabies that contain words of Torah and holiness.[20]]

Gentile playing Jewish/Kosher music:[21] There is no issue with listening to a Jewish, or Kosher song, being played by a gentile. There is thus no issue with having a gentile play [Kosher music] for a Jewish wedding or other Simcha, [in a case that a Jew is not available to play[22]].[23]



It is forbidden to sing or listen to music that was composed for idolatry or contains heretical, forbidden, inappropriate or sexually stimulating lyrics and messages. This applies even for an infant. It is permitted to listen to gentile music that is free of any of the above issues. Nonetheless, G-d fearing Jews avoid even music of such type. It is permitted to use gentile composed tunes to for the sake of singing for Avodas Hashem, so long as the song is not rooted in idolatry, and does not cause the listener to think of any inappropriate lyrics or messages that may have been contained in the original song, and has passed through the ruling of a Rav.


May one listen to songs of gentiles that speak of G-d and the like?[24]

It is permitted to do so, so long as a) It contains no inappropriate words and b) one verifies that the songs were not composed for the sake of idolatry, such as for the church or for the sake of their religion and deity.

May one listen to songs of Psalms that were composed by gentiles?[25]

No, unless one has verified that it was not composed for the church or for the sake of their deity.


May one listen to classical music of gentiles?

If the tune was not composed for the sake of idolatry, and is not used for its sake, then from the letter of the law, it is permitted to listen to such music. [Some songs in classical music were composed as “Sacred music”, for the sake of the church, and is forbidden to be sung by a Jew.[26]] Nonetheless, G-d fearing Jews are accustomed not to listen to such music due to the spiritual affect it may have on the soul, as explained above.



Practical Question on article

Throughout the above article you have stated again and again that although listening to non-Jewish music is only forbidden in specific cases and due to specific reasons [and thus if those reasons are not applicable then it is permitted], nonetheless, a Jew should not listen to them due to the bad spiritual effect. While I do know that many people say this, I have not really seen a source for this concept and if the Poskim deem certain gentile music as Kosher then why the need to be stringent and where does this concept come from?

Indeed, we have pointed to some sources in the footnotes which hint towards the idea that listening to non-Jewish music of any type should not be done due to the soul connection that occurs as a result. While I have not found more explicit sources to confirm this, it is a widely believed concept which has precedent in other matters as well, including in the loss of Kashrus. Interestingly, there exists a certain food which although is Kosher the Poskim rule that one should not consume it being that it will create evil and negative character traits in the person. This food is the milk of a Gentile woman. The milk of a human whether Jew or Gentile is Kosher for consumption. Despite this, the Poskim discourage one from drinking due to the negative effect that it may have on one’s soul, being that it came from a Gentile who is made up of the three unclean Kelipos. Thus, we see precedent that a food can contain no nonkosher ingredients and be deemed permitted in consumption according to Jewish law, but nonetheless still have a negative effect on his soul and should thus be avoided due to this reason. We can apply the same concept with gentile music, that even if it is free of any of the forbidden ingredients, nonetheless the mere fact that it comes from the depths of the soul of a Gentile itself can suffice to have a negative effect on the person, and therefore the custom is to avoid it even if it is deemed kosher according to Halacha.



[1] This applies to all music that was composed by a gentile or non-observant Jew

[2] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 53:27

[3] Michaber Y.D. 142:15 “It is forbidden to listen to music of idolaters”; Admur 53:32 “A Chazan who speaks inappropriately, or sings songs of gentiles that are sung for idolatry.”; Rama 53:25; Radbaz 2:809; Shut Harif 281; Orchos Chaim Tefila 78; Kol Bo 109; Sefer Chassidim 768 “It is a sin to sing songs of the gentiles”

[4] Igros Moshe 2:56; See Michaber ibid; Admur ibid; Rama ibid; Poskim ibid;

[5] Sefer Chassidim 768 “It is a sin to sing songs of the gentiles”; Mamar Mordechai 560:2 regarding all songs with inappropriate words; Shelah; Shaar Hatziyon 560:25; Kaf Hachaim 560:29; Chelkas Yaakov 64

[6] Mamar Mordechai 560:2; Shelah; Shaar Hatziyon 560:25; Kaf Hachaim 560:29

[7] Chagiga 15; See Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:56; Shevet Halevi 9:19

[8] Implication of Poskim ibid; Igros Moshe 2:56; Thus, one may sing or listen to various gentile children’s songs such as “This land is my land” or the national anthem, or “G-d Bless America”, and the like of which contain no inappropriate lyrics or messages, and on the contrary, promote peace and spirituality.

[9] See Tiporen Shamir 110 “One who listens to songs that are not from holiness defiles his ears and it will lead him to Keri”; Likkutei Dibburim 1 Likkut 4:5 “When one sings a song composed by another one unites with his Chayah-Yechida”; See also Toras Menachem 1987 2:647 that one is not to sing gentile lullabies [seemingly even if Kosher] and is rather to sing lullabies that contain words of Kedusha.

[10] Admur ibid; M”A 53:31; Teshuvos Habach 127; M”B 53:82; Rabbeinu Yerucham, brought in Beis Lechem Yehuda Y.D. 142

[11] Divrei Chaim 2:17; Piskeiy Teshuvos 53:27; See Yechaveh Daas ibid

[12] Seemingly, according to all, one may sing such tunes if they never contained any inappropriate lyrics.

[13] Implication of Admur and M”A ibid who only negate songs of idolatry; Teshuvos Habach ibid forbids singing tunes of idolatry, although permits singing other tunes; M”B ibid; P”M 53 A”A 14; Birkeiy Yosef 560:6; Maharam Di Lunzano in Shtei Yados p. 142; Zechor Leavraham Mareches Kaddish; Kerach Shel Romi 1; Talumos Leiv 3 Lekuttim p. 96; Yechaveh Daas 2:5; Yabia Omer 6:7

[14] Arugas Habosem; Maaseh Rokieach 8:11; Kaf Hachaim [Falagi] 13:6; Tzitz Eliezer 5:2; 13:12; 14:12; Shevet Halevi 9:19; Vayeishev Hayam 7

[15] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[16] See Sichas 23rd Kisleiv 5752

[17] Likkutei Sichos 24:429;

[18] Sefer Chassidim 238; Shlah; Sifrei Mussar; Mamar Mordechai 560:1; Kaf Hachaim 560:29; Shaar Hatziyon 560:25

[19] Toras Menachem 1987 2:647

[20] Rebbe ibid

[21] See Admur 338:3; Michaber 338:2; Tur 338 in name of Ravaya; Mordechai Beitza 696; Hagahos Ashri Beitza 5:2

[22] As is the case in the Poskim ibid regarding a wedding feast taking place on Shabbos. Regarding preceding the hiring of a Jew to a gentile, see: Sifra Behar 3, brought in Rashi 25:14; Rambam Matanos Aniyim 10:17; Tashbatz 3:151; Shut Rama 10; Levush Y.D.D 159:1; Chikrei Lev C.M. 139; Chasam Sofer C.M. 134; Maharam Shick C.M. 31; Mahrsham in Mihspat Shalom C.M. 189; Ahavas Chesed 5:5; Toefes Reim 22; Shearim Hametzuyanim Behalacha 1:62; Yaskil Avdi 4:6; Minchas Yitzchak 3:129; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:805; 2:724; Ateres Paz 1:10; Piskeiy Uziel 48

[23] In previous times, when it was common for weddings to be held on Friday’s and the subsequent feast was held on Friday night, it was permitted to have a gentile band play the music at the Friday night weddings, and this did not transgress the Shabbos prohibition or any other prohibition. [Admur ibid]

[24] Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:56 and E.H. 1:96 regarding a Jew who sings in front of mixed crowds

[25] Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:56 and E.H. 1:96 regarding a Jew who sings in front of mixed crowds

[26] See a list of Mozarts Scared music – Sacred_music

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